HOW BIG a threat are the Nazis in Europe today? Many liberal establishment commentators dismiss groups like the British National Party as nasty but marginal thugs who have no chance of ever getting near power. This position has become much harder to sustain, especially since Nazi Jean-Marie Le Pen beat prime minister Lionel Jospin into third place in the first round of the French presidential elections on 21 April.
"IS ANY child safe?" the Daily Express thundered last week. In the wake of the tragic murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the tabloids are seeking to boost circulation by playing on parents' fears. The News of the World is planning a repeat of the "name and shame" campaign against paedophiles it ran two years ago.
THE EARTH Summit starts in Johannesburg, South Africa, next week. World leaders will talk about tackling poverty, dealing with the environmental crisis and embracing "sustainable development". US president George W Bush is hostile even to making such noises. This could lead some people to think that the summit must contain something good.
THE BRITISH state, at best, has always had a two-faced attitude towards multiculturalism. On the one hand it likes to trumpet the supposed "tolerance" at the heart of British culture.
MANY HAVE feared that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has lost something of its cutting edge as it has grown ever larger. Yet, as this year's festival approached, we began hearing concerns about the number of shows with 11 September related themes. Most of the criticism was directed at the idea that comedians would make jokes about 9-11.
GEORGE BUSH and Tony Blair are more isolated than ever over war on Iraq. But the madman in the White House is determined to press ahead, and a Downing Street spokesman insists the prime minister is "not going wobbly". The scale of opposition to the war shows the potential to make Blair more than wobble.
WHY IS George Bush so hell bent on a war on Iraq? The US devastated Iraq in a war 11 years ago. US-backed economic sanctions have already killed 500,000 Iraqi children, according to Unicef. A US war on Iraq risks destabilising the Middle East and sparking wider wars. It looks mad, but behind Bush's crazy logic stands his desire to have a war to assert US dominance around the globe.
THE RIGHT wing axis of Blair, Berlusconi and Aznar has united to drive privatisation policies through Europe. Now Blair hopes to turn their axis into one that backs the US war. Even Germany's leader Gerhard Schršder has come out against the war on Iraq. These two issues, war and privatisation, are at the centre of the European Social Forum which is being held in Florence, Italy, in November.
REPORTS OF war crimes began circulating within days of Israeli tanks rolling into the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin in April this year. There were dozens of eyewitness accounts of people buried alive as their homes were bulldozed, and of women and children shot dead in the streets. The friends and families of the victims had to wait for four months until the UN produced a report on events in Jenin. The report has serious weaknesses.
UP UNTIL now the events of 11 September 2001 have produced little in the world of popular music other than jingoistic flag-waving by certain second and third rate US musicians.
NEW LABOUR is facing its biggest challenge yet from the unions. The strike of one million council workers, the election of left wing general secretaries, and the number of left wing motions at the coming TUC congress in September have all got Tony Blair worried.
IT'S EASY to laugh at the Tories. Last week they were going through yet another round in the Life of Brian type internal squabbles that have reduced them to an unelectable rump. Only the saddest kind of political scientist could take a genuine interest in working out what the ideological differences are between Iain Duncan Smith and sacked party chairman David Davis.
HAVE YOU ever given a future Archbishop of Canterbury a lift home from an anti-war event? Perhaps not-unless you were in South Wales some five years ago. There you could have seen bishop Rowan Williams leave a meeting against the bombing of Iraq and calmly accept sharing a car with several Socialist Workers Party members.
"A DEFINING moment in the history of the labour movement." That is how the bosses' Financial Times described the shock defeat of Tony Blair's closest trade union ally, Sir Ken Jackson of Amicus. Jackson was finally forced to concede victory to his left wing opponent Derek Simpson last week.
A GREAT crash shook the British labour movement last week-one that sounded almost like the fall of the Berlin Wall back in November 1989. Derek Simpson's election as general secretary of the engineering and electrical section of the giant Amicus union is more than the latest in a series of left wing union victories.
THE STRIKE meant more than a justified fight over low pay. In Northern Ireland, for example, Catholic and Protestant workers picketed together, united for a common cause. In Burnley, Oldham and other areas where Nazis and racists have been seeking to divide people, black, white and Asian workers struck together.
ON 16 November 1999 Jermaine Lee, a black Birmingham postal worker, took his own life. He was 26 years old. Last week the legal investigation into the case came to its conclusion. It revealed a terrifying level of racist harassment at the Aston sorting office where Jermaine worked. There is a powerful myth that racism is generated by the "uneducated" and "ignorant" people at the bottom of society. The people higher up are allegedly more "liberal".
WEDNESDAY'S walkout by over one million council workers is the biggest strike yet under Tony Blair. It has brought the reality of life for millions of working people-low pay and insecurity-to the streets of hundreds of towns and cities.
GEORGE BUSH is beating the drum of war louder as financial scandals sweep the US. He has brought forward a meeting with his loyal manservant Tony Blair to discuss attacking Iraq. Leaked papers from the US military talk of deploying 250,000 troops in the Middle East to launch a full scale invasion.
I HAD to speak at a meeting last week with a title that seemed to be quite daft- "Is the recession over before it began?" This was on a day that saw massive panic on the stockmarkets, and after George Bush had said he was worried about "how tender the system can be". He's been on television twice since to try to reassure the American people. On each occasion the result has been to increase the sense of panic. It has a much bigger political impact in the US than here. That's because the nonsense about "people's capitalism" has conned many more people there.